Bahraini Teachers Jailed

Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman, the president and vice president of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association, were sentenced to five and six months in prison after a court in Bahrain upheld their convictions last week.

The two were arrested in 2011 after supporting calls for reform in Bahrain. Abu Dheeb has spent some 18 months in prison and al-Salman spent five and a half months in prison before being released on bail. Prior to that, they were held in solitary confinement, where they say they were subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and forced to sign “confessions” they did not even read.

They were brought to trial before the National Safety Court of First Instance (a military court) on June 15 on charges that included “inciting hatred toward the regime” and “calling to overthrow and change the regime by force.”

In September 2011, a military court convicted them of attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force and inciting hatred of the regime. Amnesty International concludes that it has ‘not seen any convincing evidence supporting such accusations, nor was there any such evidence presented at trial,’ and has adopted Madhdi and Jalila as prisoners of conscience.

“All these teachers did was to call for a strike in their role as trade union leaders—this is merely exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association and is certainly not a crime,” says Philip Luther, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa program director.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry last year found that the authorities had grossly exaggerated, if not manufactured, many claims brought against thousands of ordinary people who had been caught up in the February 2011 protests.

Education International has issued a call for a large online campaign demanding the release of both Mahdi and Jalila.

Take action now. Urge Bahraini authorities to immediately release Mahdi, ensure that Jalila does not serve any of her remaining sentence and to drop all charges against them.

On World Teacher Day, Unions Support Jailed Bahraini Teachers

Today, World Teachers’ Day, reminds us how valuable teachers are for building our future—and how fragile their profession can be. Massive teacher shortages are “quietly looming over countries struggling to provide every child with quality primary education by 2015,” according to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In Bahrain, where nearly 3,000 citizens who took part in last year’s Arab uprisings were dismissed form their jobs and many arrested, teachers were among those targeted.

Mahdi Abu Dheeb, president of the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) and Jalila Al Salman, BTA vice president, have been sentenced to 10 years and three years, respectively, for exercising their right to speech and free association. Al Salman has been released while awaiting her appeal, but Abu Dheeb, who has diabetes, is still imprisoned and suffering from poor health associated with his diabetes and the prison conditions.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Education International and Amnesty International have filed protests on Abu Dheeb’s behalf and are working toward him release while he awaits his appeal. The global labor movement and human rights groups also are working on behalf of the many Bahrainis who are suffering from retaliatory acts of the government.

The Solidarity Center has joined the global labor movement and human rights groups in strongly opposing threats and media attacks against workers and their organizations, attempts to subvert independent unions, and the flawed process of rehiring people fired in the wake of the protests where many still face workplace discrimination.

At Stand Up for Bahrain Teachers, you can show your support for Abu Dheeb and all imprisoned Bahraini teachers. The Tumblr site showcases photos that teachers and others have taken with signs of support for Bahraini teachers. Here’s how you can join them.

Take a photo with a message of support.

Send the photo to iad@aft.org. Add an additional message in the body of your e-mail, if you wish. In a few days, you will see it at http://standupforbahrainteachers.tumblr.com/

Post it to Facebook and invite your friends to create their own photos.

Tweet any of these messages if you’re on Twitter:

  • Teachers Belong in School, Not Prison! Justice for #Bahrain’s Teachers now!
    @Khaled_Bin_Ali @MOSDsocial @MoeBahrain
  • We demand justice for leaders of the #Bahrain Teachers Association @Khaled_Bin_Ali @MOSDsocial @MoeBahrain
  • We stand behind #Bahrain Teachers Association! @Khaled_Bin_Ali @MOSDsocial @MoeBahrain
    Amnesty International also offers more ideas on how you can take action to speak out on behalf of Bahraini teachers.

Amnesty International also offers more ideas on how you can take action to speak out on behalf of Bahraini teachers.

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